Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Joy of Earth

A Letter is a joy of Earth —
It is denied the Gods —
 —Emily Dickinson

Colorful Mail

Thanks to everyone who sent me such colorful and delightful mail during A Month of Letters. I had a great time writing letters and postcards, putting together packages, buying cool stamps.

Kitty and Puppy

Now that it's over, I know I'll be sending "real mail" more often.

Happy Leap Day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shallows: Tips and Tricks

I spent a little time at WEBS the other day, shopping for yarn for a Shallows scarf. There were so many contenders, so many lovely fingering weights to choose from! But in the end I decided to go with the same yarn I used for my Shallows cowl—Swans Island Organic Merino.

That might seem unadventurous—but if you love a yarn, why not go back to it? And then there was the matter of color—I found myself circling back again and again to the lone skein of the beautiful raspberry colorway.

Raspberry Shallows Scarf Start
Pattern: Shallows by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Swans Island Certified Organic Merino Fingering, Raspberry
Needle: US4/3.5mm

I'm modifying the pattern to make it a bit wider. The cowl sample was 7 inches wide; this scarf will be approximately 8.5 inches. If you'd like to make a wider Shallows, cast on 55 stitches. You'll also need more beads—my modified scarf will use 136 in all. I'm also making it longer by adding rows in the stockinette sections.

When I was about ten inches in, I decided to block it, to see what width and length I could expect. One reason I like circular needles for flat knitting is that it's easy to block a piece right on the needle. I slid the knitting to the center of cable, soaked it in Eucalan and cold water for 25 minutes, then pinned it out.

Raspberry Shallows Scarf

To get crisp, even edges, I used blocking wires. I threaded the wire under stitches on each side of the scarf, then used pins to hold the wires in place. I also used pins to accentuate the scallops.

I like to wait a good 24 hours, sometimes longer, to take lace off the wires. Even when it feels dry to the touch, the yarn may still have some moisture in it. (Of course, with gift knitting, this isn't always possible!)

Do you use wires when blocking lace? And where do you block your lace projects? I usually put towels or a spare sheet on the living room rug. There's plenty of space, I can leave it overnight, and the rug really holds the pins well.

I'm using stitch markers to set off the lace repeats (you can see them on the needle in the first photo). But because markers can sometimes cause subtle but noticeable ladders in stockinette, I'm removing them during the stockinette sections. To keep them handy, I put them on a locking stitch marker and attach that near the cast-on edge.

Raspberry Shallows in 
Progress

While the scarf was blocking, I could see that I was having a bit of a problem with "rowing out" in the stockinette section (my wrong-side purl stitches were sometimes looser than the right-side knit stitches). I decided it wasn't bad enough to warrant ripping back, but to prevent it going forward I'm now using a smaller needle for purling the wrong-side rows during the stockinette sections. That seems to be correcting the problem.

If you're knitting Shallows, or just new to lace knitting, I hope you'll find these tips helpful. Bonne chance!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pattern Release: Shallows

My newest pattern is all about lace, beads, and contrasting textures. It’s called Shallows and is now available on Ravelry and in my Etsy shop.

Shallows_Full_1
Pattern: Shallows by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Approx. 350 yards of fingering or light fingering weight yarn. I knit the sample with Swans Island Organic Merino in the Oatmeal colorway. (Most of the colorways are 100 percent merino, but this one is 85 percent merino, 15 percent alpaca.)
Needles: US 4/3.5mm
Dimensions after blocking: 7 inches/18 cm wide by 52 inches/132 cm long

Shallows_Looped_1

Shallows can be knit either as a scarf or a cowl. Both versions are worked flat from one end to the other; after blocking, the beginning and ending edges of the cowl are grafted together.

Shallows_Detail_3

It’s a light, lacy accessory perfect for spring. The stitch patterns are easily memorized, which means it works up very quickly.

Shallows_Full_3

The scarf version requires 102 #6 seed beads, the cowl 96. The pattern provides instructions for placing beads using the crochet hook method. Of course, you can omit the beads if you like—just knit the stitch instead of placing a bead on it.

Shallows_Detail_2

Instructions are given in both written form and a chart and were carefully tech edited by Katherine, whose helpful suggestions always result in a better pattern.

Shallows_Looped_4

Now that I’ve finished up this cowl version, I want to cast on for the scarf. Which yarn to use, and what color? Maybe a deep marine blue? Teal? Rose? Lilac? Scarlet? Spring green?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's No Mystery to Me Anymore

Kelmscott Sock
Pattern: Kelmscott (formerly Mystery Sock 2012), by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Fiberphile 2-ply Squooshy Sock in the Mithril colorway
Needles: US1/2.00mm

If you had asked me, would I like to knit a sock on 2.00mm needles that has cables, bobbles, and lots of twisted stitches, I might have said, "Maybe when I retire." Since this pattern was for a Mystery KAL, with one clue released each week in January, at the outset I wasn't sure what I was getting into.

Yet here I am, really enjoying this sock and all its intricacies. There are several options for the foot, some with more flowers and leaves, others much simpler. I'm probably going to go with the simplest, but we'll see. Having gotten Sock #1 this far, I'm now going back to Sock #2 to knit it to the same place. Then, for the length of the leg, you knit the same row over and over for a few inches. That will be a welcome break from the charts!

Take a look at the 300+ projects on Ravelry to feast your eyes on some truly beautiful socks in a wide range of yarns. I'm really enjoying this Fiberphile sock yarn, especially the silvery grey Mithril colorway. In fact, I like it so much I ordered a sweater's worth in the DK weight, which I'm knitting up now into a new cardigan design. (Look for that next month, if all goes well.)

Mithril, by the way, is a fictional metal from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: "Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of mithril did not tarnish or grow dim."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Threads of Love

For my Valentine's Day post, I thought I'd share a few pictures of an old kitchen towel.

 A Well-Used Towel_1

Walk into the kitchen—or any room—in the home of a member of my family, and you're sure to find something handwoven by my sister Jenny. She's been weaving (and teaching) for years and is always at her looms, producing one beautiful thing after another.

A Well-Used Towel_2

Jenny makes her handwovens to be used, and use them I do. This kitchen towel has been one of my favorites for many, many years. It's gotten a lot of use, and it shows. (I have an idea for a special way to repurpose it, but that's a secret for now.)

A Well-Used Towel_3

Jenny's work is a constant outpouring of love. When I look at these frayed threads, I don't see an old towel. I see love.

Happy Valentine's Day from me and Snickers (it wouldn't be a holiday post without Snicks!).

Lounging Snickers

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Killigrew

One of my designs, a scarf called Killigrew, has just been published in Quince and Co.'s new Scarves, Etc. collection:

Killigrew_4
Pattern: Killigrew by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Quince and Co. Chickadee, in the Carrie's Yellow colorway
Needles: US5/3.75mm

Killigrew is all about knits and purls—playful triangles framed on each end by an asymmetrical garter stitch rib. I envisioned it as a unisex scarf that could be worn by young and old, men, women, and children.

Killigrew_3

The more I knit Killigrew, the fonder I became of this sunny colorway. It's the color of daffodils and dandelions, a real burst of sunshine in mid-winter.

It's an honor to be included in Scarves, Etc. The lookbook is absolutely stunning thanks to the gorgeous photography by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I especially like the still-life pages interspersed among the patterns: orange peels on a platter, a cup on a windowstill. They're so simple and perfect. And the scarf designs are so beautiful—I'd love to make them all!

To celebrate, I treated myself to lunch today at the place I named Killigrew after—the Lady Killigrew Cafe at the Montague Mill in Montague, Massachusetts.

The Lady Killigrew, Montague, MA

At the Lady Killigrew

Sun pouring in big windows, fresh salad, good coffee, a gluten-free muffin ... I was a happy camper.

Lady Killigrew Lunch

The whole time you're there, you hear the sound of the Sawmill River rushing by. Much of this former mill houses the Book Mill, a fantastic used bookstore with a crafts section always worth checking out. (A recent find: an old Harmony stitch dictionary with stitch patterns that aren't in any of my other books.)

Miles of books, comfy chairs, sunshine ... just an all-around great place to hang out, with lots cozy corners perfect for knitting! 

At the Book Mill_1


At the Book Mill_3

At the Book Mill_12

Sunday, February 05, 2012

An Exultation of Wrinkles

Wrinkles in one's work must be smoothed away, ironed out, steamed out. Right?

Or not? Feeling contrary about wrinkles, I've been embroidering them ...

Wrinkle Embroidery
Linen, various weights of DMC perle cotton. Keeping it simple with a limited palette and just back stitch, running stitch, and French knots.

On the subject of embroidery, look what Rebecca very generously sent me:

New Sampler

A message all of us self-doubting, self-critical creative types can use. Rebecca explains the genesis of this sampler, with a link to the Mary Oliver poem that inspired it, here.

Speaking of love, Valentine's Day is almost here. Have you got your cards ready to give or send? When I saw the new Love Birds cards by designer Connie Chang Chinchio's little brother, I wasted no time getting a few:

Love Birds Cards
Aren't they sweet? You can read about them on Connie's blog.

Soon, very soon, I'll be able to share a new design with you. Something really sunny, the color of dandelions and daffodils. It's being published by a third party so I have to be patient. Details coming, probably this week!

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at a beaded lace design under construction. This one I hope to publish by the end of the month. I'm knitting it in Swan's Island organic merino/alpaca fingering weight. Oh la la, what a luscious yarn.

beads for new design